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  • Jorge Enrique Pizano had warned since 2012 about irregularities with the Brazilian multinational for the construction of an infrastructure work known in the country as Ruta del Sol.

    Jorge Enrique Pizano had warned since 2012 about irregularities with the Brazilian multinational for the construction of an infrastructure work known in the country as Ruta del Sol. | Photo: EFE

Published 14 November 2018

His death has triggered a new investigation after his son Alejandro Pizano, who returned to Colombia for the funeral, died three days later due to poisoning after having drunk cyanide from a water bottle at his father's house.

Colombian attorney general's office is investigating the death of Jorge Enrique Pizano, a key witness in the Odebrecht corruption case in the country. In the first investigation, his death was described by forensic experts as a natural heart attack.

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His death has triggered a new investigation after his son Alejandro Pizano, who returned to Colombia for the funeral, died three days later due to poisoning after having drunk cyanide from a water bottle at his father's house.

"The evidence collected (...) indicates that the victim would have found the cyanide in a flavored water bottle that was found on his father's desk, from which he took a sip," the investigating entity said in a statement. After drinking, Alejandro complained from the bad taste and from severe stomach pain, dying on the way to the hospital.

Jorge Pizano was an essential piece in the investigation of Odebrecht, the Brazilian construction giant, that has been investigated for corruption cases in several Latin American countries. Pizano was the auditor of the Ruta del Sol, one of the most important infrastructure projects in Colombia, to increase the accessibility to the Caribbean coast by the rest of the country.

The Ruta del Sol was adjudicated to Odebrecht and its local partners, mainly Grupo Aval. Former auditor Pizano was a key witness in an investigation for alleged bribes that the Brazilian construction company may have paid to keep the multi-million dollar project.

In February 2017, said concession was canceled, due to emerging evidence of corruption from Odebrecht to be benefited with the Ruta del Sol concession. In 2010 Jorge Pizano was hired as an auditor, in 2013 he began the denouncing of "suspicious payments."

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On August 2018, Pizano recorded a video handed to Noticias Uno (a local news network). The video was aired on Monday, Pizano asked that the video be released after he got protection outside of Colombia or after he died. In the video, the engineer explained that the general-attorney, Nestor Humberto Martinez, former legal advisor for Grupo Aval, knew since 2013 the corruption scheme by Odebrecht, that is, before being appointed as attorney-general.

"The facts and the truths are coming to the surface and we see how there really is a plot against my integrity as a person" said the engineer in a video recorded on August 9.

The former prosecutor for the case, Amparo Ceron, had to leave the case due to a car crash in Chile where she was on vacation. Her medical condition has not allowed her to return to her duties.

Calls for Humberto Martinez resignation have risen around the South American country. He defended himself, stating that he knew what Pizano had told him, about the irregular payments, but that it was not clear that those actions were bribes. According to Martinez, the information was passed to officials of the company, at the time he claims that he was alerted about Pizano's suspicions.

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